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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ratings of perceived exertion during aerobic exercise in multiple sclerosis.

  • Author(s): Morrison, Elizabeth H
  • Cooper, Dan M
  • White, Lesley J
  • Larson, Jennifer
  • Leu, Szu-Yun
  • Zaldivar, Frank
  • Ng, Alexander V
  • et al.

OBJECTIVE: To compare ratings of perceived exertion (RPEs) during aerobic exercise in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and control participants. DESIGN: Prospective experimental study. SETTING: An exercise testing laboratory. PARTICIPANTS: Sedentary adults (n=12) with mild MS (Expanded Disability Status Scale score < or = 3) aged 30 to 45 years and sedentary age-matched and sex-matched controls (n=12). INTERVENTIONS: All participants underwent a graded aerobic exercise test on a cycle ergometer with breath-by-breath gas measurements and continuous heart rate monitoring. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: After completing the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale, participants rated their effort sense every 30 seconds during exercise using the modified Borg 10-point scale. RESULTS: The 2 study groups showed similar baseline characteristics except for higher fatigue scores in the MS group. There were no significant differences for any fitness measure, including oxygen cost slope (in VO(2) x min(-1) x W(-1)), VO(2), or work rate during exercise. Neither heart rate nor RPE--measured at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of VO(2)peak--differed between groups. CONCLUSIONS: Despite greater reported fatigue levels, participants with MS showed similar RPE and physiologic responses to submaximal and maximal exercise compared with controls. In MS, the Borg 10-point scale may help improve evidence-based exercise prescriptions, which otherwise may be limited by fatigue, motor impairment, heat sensitivity, or autonomic dysfunction.

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